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First Selectman’s Youth Commission welcomes new faces

September 15, 2016 GMT

GREENWICH — Seventeen high school and college students have begun their stint as the 2016-17 members of the First Selectman’s Youth Commission.

The two-year old commission, comprised of high schoolers from various schools in Greenwich, is designed to provide input from youth to local leaders. The commission, run like any other town commission, meets monthly with First Selectman Peter Tesei to weigh in on issues concerning Greenwich students.

“We are fortunate in Greenwich to have such a caring First Selectman that wants to hear directly from our youth, set them up to succeed and give them the platform to make Greenwich the best is can be for our young people,” said Jennifer Byxbee, manager of the Greenwich Youth Services Bureau, who advises the Youth Commission.

Greenwich High School senior Alex Schnur was chosen as the 2016-17 Chair of the commission after a unanimous vote by the group’s graduating seniors. As chair, Schur will help moderate discussions between the commission and town representatives.

“It is an honor to serve as this year’s chairman and to have been selected by my peers, Mrs. Byxbee and Mr. Tesei,” he said. “I hope I can make them proud and help guide the commission in effecting positive changes this year.”

Schnur joined the commission as a freshman in the hopes of representing GHS in local government, he said.

“I have always been very interested in politics, government and public policy and have a great deal of respect for Mr. Tesei, who has been our First Selectman since I was in elementary school,” he said. “The FSYC was created to give me and my peers a forum to discuss, debate and hopefully enact changes that will improve our community.”

Students serving on the 2016-17 commission as officer are William Chen of GHS, vice chair; Greenwich resident Graham Plewniak of Blind Brook High School, N.Y., secretary; Scott Gibbons of Brunswick School, treasurer.

Outreach Chairs include Raena Greenbaum and Mia Nixon of GHS and Chair Emeritus James Plewniak a GHS graduate who now attends Georgetown University. Greenwich High School delegates are Willa Doss, Catherine Veronis and Jeremy Fertig; Greenwich Academy delegates are Samantha Sarelli, Whitney Elminger and Molly Kalb; Sacred Heart Greenwich delegates Grace Thompson, Tatiana Lieberman and Courtney Smith and Greenwich Country Day School liaison Isabel Kalb.

The commission still has some openings. High school-age students from schools not currently represented by the commission are welcome to submit an application through the town website.

“We want a delegate from every school that has grades from 9-12,” said Byxbee. “We have big hopes to accomplish a lot so we need a little more man power this year.”

The commission typically focuses on finding solutions for youth concerns in Greenwich.

“The Greenwich Youth Commission was founded with the aim to provide the town’s young people an opportunity to become involved in their community,” Tesei said. “It also is a means for the town’s youth to experience the positive impact their collaborative efforts have within the community where they live.”

In the past, the commission helped Safe Rides, a teen drunk driving prevention program, continue in Greenwich when the Red Cross stopped funding it.

The commission used a grant from the Junior League of Greenwich, recruited volunteers and worked with the Transportation Association of Greenwich. Now teens can call a hotline on Fridays and Saturdays between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. to receive a free ride home, no questions asked.

“These young people are amazing,” said Byxbee. “If the kids are behind it, we’ll be successful.”

Commission meetings are open the public, and agendas are posted on line. If a student in a local school has a pressing issue or idea, they are encouraged to reach out their school delegate, and items will be submitted to the monthly agenda, said Byxbee.

Tesei has high hopes for this year’s commission, he said.

“I fully expect that this year’s Commission members will continue the tradition of helping to improve the quality of life for their peers,” he said.

emunson@hearstmediact.com; @emiliemunson